Welcome to CBCSports.ca's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1, where every Friday our resident nerds — er, experts — Jesse Campigotto and Jordan Shifman, debate three hot topics of interest for poolies.
In last week's edition we called out the players who are killing our teams. This week we tackle our first question from a reader: Who are the top available guys that can produce both points and penalty minutes?
We want questions
Keep those questions coming using the comments function at the bottom of this page, and our fantasy pros will answer the best one in this space next week.
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All stats are through Wednesday.
1. Question from reader Chabotsky: Who might still be available that produces points and penalty minutes?
Jordan: This is one area that seems to still be readily available. In fact, a majority of the players that both score and get penalty minutes are owned in only a small percentage of Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues. And several of these players seem to be on the Ottawa Senators. Among them are Jarkko Ruutu, Matt Carkner and Nick Foligno, but Chris Neil would have to be at the top of the list. He's seventh in the league with 32 PIMs, has two goals and one assist and is owned in just six per cent of all Yahoo! leagues. To put that into perspective, heading into Thursday night's action Eric Staal has just two more PIMs and two more points. If you're in need of a defenceman, Montreal's Paul Mara is 10 per cent owned and has five assists (three on the power play) with 23 PIMs. In Calgary, Mark Giordano is 14 per cent owned and has six points (four on the power play) with 20 PIMs. And if you have some patience, Avalanche winger Cody McLeod is currently on the IR, but he's worth a look. He's owned in just five per cent of Yahoo! leagues, but through nine games had three goals and two assists, plus 20 PIMs and a game winner on a resurgent Avalanche team.
Jesse: Jordan, Chabotsky (if those are your real names), let me give you a different sort of advice: join a league that doesn't reward penalty minutes! They call it fantasy hockey because the idea is to fill your roster with star players while avoiding the lunch-pail types that real teams are forced to use to fill out their rosters. Plus, since when is making your team play short-handed a good thing? For those reasons, I prefer leagues that deduct points for penalty minutes. If you're in one of those, I'd like to point out a guy who's been a pleasant surprise in the discipline department. Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who piled up 100 PIMs last season and a whopping 182 the season before, has just four through 10 games. And he's tied for the team lead with five goals. Maybe Phaneuf is trying to show the Team Canada brass he's turned over a new leaf and is worthy of a central role on the Olympic team.
Jordan: Well put, Jesse, but for those of us already in a pool that values penalty minutes and can't change the rules a quarter of the way into the season, go with Neil.
2. Who should you pick up this week?
Jordan: As I mentioned in the CBCSports.ca Fantasy Hockey Plus/Minus video, Michael Grabner (five per cent owned), James van Riemsdyk (14 per cent owned) and Derek Morris (nine per cent owned) are three hot players that may be available in your pool. Additionally, Ryan O'Reilly has become a valuable player in Colorado, scoring 10 points in his last nine games. In Washington, defenceman Jeff Schultz is coming into his own this week. He has four points in three games and is a plus-5. Then there's Jeff Tambellini. The Islanders forward is worth mentioning here because he's scored three goals and one assist this week with two power-play goals. But what's most interesting is that he's owned by a whopping zero per cent of Yahoo! fantasy owners. Tambellini has been a mediocre player at best in his career, but has been getting decent minutes on Long Island. And if you're looking for a quick and short-lived goalie fix, check out Andrew Raycroft with Luongo hurt.
Jesse: Way to cover all the bases, but I'm going to zero in on one guy: Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings' backup goalie is owned in a paltry four per cent of Yahoo! leagues, and with good reason: he's made just two starts and sports an ugly 3.03 goals-against average. But here's the silver lining: Chris Osgood has an even scarier 3.41 GAA, putting Detroit's overrated No. 1 goalie in jeopardy of losing playing time. I'm not saying Howard is Roberto Luongo (or maybe even Corey Schwab at this point), but if your league is anything like mine, goalies are a scarce commodity. Since Howard is so readily available, he might be worth picking up and stashing on your bench. The Wings are off to a slow start but should improve. When they do, you'll look smart if/when Osgood starts seeing more pine time.
3. Who should you drop this week?
Jesse: I'm giving up on Nik Antropov. Coming off a career year split between the Leafs and Rangers, the theory was the big centre would put up even better numbers playing between Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little on Atlanta's high-octane top line. Perhaps a flawed theory considering Kovalchuk isn't exactly known for his playmaking skills. Sure enough, Kovalchuk has piled up nine goals but has just one assist, and Little and Antropov have exactly zero goals between them. Now, with Kovalchuk on the shelf for probably a month with a broken foot, his linemates won't even be collecting those easy assists. Oh, and now Antropov is nursing a wonky groin. Sorry, Nik, you'll have to remain my second-favourite Kazakh.
Jordan: I'm a big fan of Bryan Little, but with Antropov's track record of underachieving and landing on the IR for extended periods of time, I never had any positive expectations of the former Leaf whatsoever. I did, however, have high expectations for another Thrashers forward: Slava Kozlov. The ageless wonder has been surprising for years in Georgia, but it seems his age has finally caught up to him. He tallied 76 points in 82 games last year (with 43 PP points), but the thirty-seven year-old has one assist this week and has just three points on the season. He's on pace for his worst season since 2001-02 when he scored 22 points in 38 games. With so many good youngsters on the market, it's hard to hold on to older players like Kozlov.